AOPA members responding to a call to action have helped ward off a threat to state funding to upgrade general aviation airports in Ohio.
As of July 18, the bill establishing the state’s operating budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 awaited signing by Gov. Mike DeWine—but without an amendment that would have changed the rules for dispensing state grant funds for airports.
Unlike GA airports, however, commercial airports have separate funding streams such as passenger facility fees, vehicle parking fees, large leaseholds on airport property, concession and vendor fees, and the ability to generate revenue via other sources, said Kyle Lewis, AOPA’s Great Lakes Region manager.
“In 2018, for example, John Glenn International Airport in Columbus reported over $30 million in revenue related to passenger airline aeronautical use to the FAA,” he said. “By allowing commercial service airports the ability to tap into the state grant funding system, smaller general aviation airports could be less likely to receive money for their own eligible projects.”
Backers of the amendment included an airport advocacy organization in Ohio that asserted that commercial-service airports “bear the burden of general aviation activities.”
AOPA believes GA airports play a vital role in the state’s aviation system, making it important that a fair state-level grant funding system remain intact, Lewis said in testimony before the Ohio Senate Finance Committee when urging it to rescind the changed the grant eligibility language.
“AOPA also issued a call to action, urging members to call their state senators and oppose the amended language,” he said.
Preserving GA airports’ access to state grant funds has become even more important because of state budget constraints that have constrained access to FAA matching grants, Lewis added. For the past three years, Ohio has awarded only $18 million of the requested $60 million in state funds that help localities fund their matching shares of federal grants issued by the FAA for airport safety and infrastructure upgrades, he said.